Matt Robicelli, co-owner of the popular Robicelli's Bakery, is returning to the savory side of dining as the new chef at Trinacria Cafe.
Robicelli will take over the kitchen at the Mount Vernon restaurant the first week of January, and plans to overhaul the dinner menu.
"[We're] keeping some of the old favorites that people love but also bringing on a more simple, Southern Italian menu to kind of brighten up what’s going on," he said.
The new job marks a change of pace for Robicelli, who moved to Baltimore with his wife, Allison, after closing their popular New York bakery, Robicelli's. The Robicellis planned to open a bakery in Baltimore, but those plans were put on hold while Matt Robicellli dealt with health problems.
He's healthy now, he said, and the couple is still working on opening the bakery, though plans are still in flux -- they haven't pinned down a location or timeline.
“At this point, I’m actually really excited that I’m taking on this new role" at Trinacria, Robicelli said.
He does plan to serve some plated Robicelli's pastries at Trinacria. He said that the updated menu will focus on simple dishes that Italian families, like his wife's, would eat at home.
"It's not going to be a typical red sauce joint," he said.
One dish he's particularly excited about is his version of panelle, a fried chickpea polenta dish that he used to eat in Brooklyn but hasn't been able to find in Baltimore.
Robicelli also plans to expand Trinacria's brunch menu, with hopes of making it a brunch "destination" in Mount Vernon. The cafe, an offshoot of a century-old North Paca Street deli, closed for renovations this summer and reopened in August with a spruced-up dining space.
Ultimately, Robicelli is excited to make his mark in his new hometown.
"We love it down here," he said. "Anything I can do to ... go in and do an awesome menu and help a business that’s been open for over 108 years."